Do you have your very young children lead meal time blessings? If so, why? And at what age did you start teaching them to say the blessing? And what did you teach them to say?
If not, why? And will you at some point ask them to lead the mealtime blessing? What age (if any) do you think is appropriate for a child to learn to lead meal time blessings?
I love the idea of doing a food blessing, personally. One that fosters gratitude for what we have and stresses the cooperation of getting food to our table all down the line (farmers, truckers, processors, grocers, food preparers, etc.).
I would totally let a kid do a blessing as soon as they were able to understand the concept and had the language, however simple, for it.
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We sing a song for grace all together. I prefer that over having someone lead, at least for now while the kidlets are so little (nearly 4 and nearly one years old)
Partner to R ('03); Parent to T ('07), A ('10), and E ('13)
My kids do lead the meal blessing, the youngest is 10. I think if children are old enough to remember/recite a blessing, they can lead one.
We begin by blessing ourselves (we are Catholic) and then one of the kids volunteers to lead the meal blessing ... they give thanks for the blessings they/we have received that day, ask God's blessing over the food, and add any special petitions they might think of (a sick relative, a friend in need, etc.). Anyone else at the table might add a petition ot two as well, and then we conclude.
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We'll do a mix of some of the prayers listed on the thread, between the traditional Catholic (bless us Oh Lord and these thy gifts etc) ones and some of the other ones, I really like the Johnny Appleseed song. So sweet. My kid knows one of the prayers pretty much by heart but right now he prefers to have me or my partner lead. I want to get it so we each trade off. Once he learns to read, I think it will be even easier because we can create a family mealtime blessing book and read from that.
raising my two sunshine children.
This reminds me of when my younger sister would say prayer before we ate. She would thank God for everything on the table and then thank him for peanut butter. It was so funny.
I think it's good for children to see prayer modeled and to participate if they want. I don't think I'd ever force my child to pray if he didn't want to do so.
E, wife to D, mommy to G (born March 2010).
I started off saying the blessing, and then my older daughter just started saying them along with me as she learned them. My second daughter did the same, so now they know all the ones we use. I taught my older daughter how to say the responsive blessing we use responsively, but her sister doesn't get it yet - she says the whole thing.
I have no problem with them leading. For Christmas dinner we were at my MILs, and they don't usually say a blessing, but she asked dd1 to say it. Dd1 did a great job saying the prayer (and she even picked a good one for the situation). She'll be six next month.
I think it's a nice safe environment to get children used to public prayer.
the reason that I'm asking...
we say a mealtime blessing, but I haven't asked/taught DS to do it yet (he's not 3 yet)... I'm kind of uncomfortable with telling him to lead prayer at this young an age. I have no problem modelling... and I don't really have any problem with asking him to pause and say thanks for the food... but an outright prayer... I'm not Christian (although DH and all of my extended family are), and I don't really like it much when grandparents ask DS to say "Thank you Jesus for our food." At this point, DH and I have agreed to expose DS to both of our faiths and then let him find his own path... Anyway, over Christmas we were visitng my SIL and her family... our niece (who will turn 3 in just a few days and is only 2 months older than DS) was saying the mealtime prayer... she would rush through "Dear Jesus, Thank you for our food. Amen." I'm glad no one asked DS to lead prayer... he probably would have just said "Amen." and nothing else.
So anyway, it just got me wondering what other people do. And I guess I'd like to know specifically at what age you start asking you LOs to lead a mealtime blessing. 2 seems really young to me.
Yes it seems young to me as well. And kids vary so much at that age in their language skills, and many two year olds are still very hesitant about speaking in front of stangers as the centre of attention. I wouldn't expect a child that age to lead, My three year old knows the prayers we use, but I would not expect her to lead, and she tends to have good language skills for her age.
We sing a blessing before dinner... it's the "blessings on the blossoms" song from our oldest child's preschool program. All the kids sing it together at the preschool before lunch and we adopted it for home use (we're pagan). DD1 is very comfortable singing the blessing, and dd2 (3yo) will ask if she can sing the blessing when we are visiting family who don't do a pre-meal blessing. Since it's a song it's not really a "leader" situation, but both girls can and will volunteer to sing at home and when visiting, and they don't seem to care how many people sing along.
I think a lot has to do with the child and with the type of prayer/blessing. A song might be easier for a young child since so many "children's activities" have little songs and rhymes? Or maybe it would feel easier since it's often a group activity? DH and I want our kiddos to feel comfortable singing in public as well as praying in public so it kind of kills two birds for our family, but either way I could see a short song/poetic prayer being a good way to lead a child into being comfortable with the public speaking aspect.
If it's a question of how much the child "understands" the prayer or something like that... I think that would totally depend on the child (and the prayer, and the purpose of the prayer). I was raised with a christian meal blessing and I always saw it as a formulaic "what we do before we eat" thing rather than a "meaningful spiritual act" thing until well into our teen years. Kind of like having a napkin on your lap or your elbows off the table or thanking the host. lol So even though I was comfortable leading the prayer by the time I was 5 or 6, I wasn't really "understanding" the prayer on a personal level.
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